LOS CHAVEZ — Reva Armijo can only speak about holding her son as he died for a few minutes before she covers her face with a brown paper napkin and sobs.
“I just held him. He was holding eye contact, trying so much to hold on. He tried so hard. I told him ‘I love you, I love you.’ I know he heard me. I held on to him until I couldn’t hold him no more,” Armijo says through tears.
On Saturday, March, 6, Armijo, who lives in Los Chavez, took a friend to a house on Carmel Road in Monterey Park so he could purchase a car. Her two sons, Joseph, 11, and Joshua, 6, went with them.
They were at the home for 15-20 minutes at most, Armijo said, before Joseph was shot and killed.
“I had just told them it was time to go,” she said. “I heard the shots but thought they were a paintball gun or something at first. I heard the second shot and (realized what was happening) and went running. I came around the corner (of the trailer) and Joseph was bent over.”
Everything became a blur after that, Armijo said. She held Joseph, who was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his neck, trying desperately to stop it. Against his favorite camouflage gear, she couldn’t find the source.
“Everything was so dark, so I couldn’t see,” she said.
A little boy known for his smile and sweetness, the way he was everyone’s friend, his love of rocks and volcanoes, Joseph died in the arms of his mother in the front yard of the home.
To remember and celebrate him, the staff at his school, Dennis Chavez Elementary, held a candlelight vigil last Friday evening. Despite the brisk spring winds, dozens of Joseph’s family, friends, classmates and community members gathered at the flagpole and placed rocks in a heart-shaped rock garden created in his memory.
Dennis Chavez Elementary Principal Alicia Blaakman-Abney said students began creating the garden, as well as a second memorial — a J made from rocks in the recess field — just days after Joseph’s death.
“Remember him. That’s why we’re all here,” Blaakman-Abney said. “There’s not one person on this campus who didn’t know Joseph.”
Joseph’s plan was to be a geologist or gemologist or pretty much anything that had to do with rocks. He also planned to live to be 6,000 years old so he could see the super volcano explode at the Yellowstone caldera.
Blaakman-Abney recalled her last conversation with Joseph, during which he asked her what was the most dangerous volcano. She started naming volcanos, but eventually Joseph had to provide the answer — “the silent one,” of course.
New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales came to the vigil to support Joseph’s family and community, he said.
“The more I’m reading and hearing, I’m learning Joseph, as a person, was such an inspiration,” Morales said.
Joseph’s aunt, Skylar Authement, held tight to her husband, Tristin, as she talked about Joseph, remembering him as a sweet, happy little boy.
“A few years ago … I showed him a video of a concert I’d gone to. He was dancing and jumping up and down, just jamming out and head banging. He didn’t even know what it was really,” Authement said. “That’s just how he was.”
On the autism spectrum, Armijo said her son was very much a “schedule child,” needing to know where she was going, how long she would be gone.
“I had to give him the detailed list of what we were buying at the store, how many stops we were making, everything,” Armijo said of Joseph with a soft smile. “He knew his diagnosis and when he’d have problems, it was like he understood that’s what was causing him to have this reaction, and he would try to move past it or work through it.”
Armijo said Joseph was full of love — for his four cats, Samantha and Sarah, Crybaby and Nosey — and for his younger brother, Joshua, 6, for all animals, for Jesus and for everybody.
“He was such a happy kid, all the time. It was very rare that you would find him angry or upset,” his mother said. “Usually, it was when he was having trouble doing something he wanted to do. Never at another person.”
Armijo and her mother, Laura Cater, said there has been a tremendous amount of community support — everything from a friend setting up a GoFundMe account to a vigil at his school — for which the family is extremely grateful.
Armijo describes losing Joseph as the worst feeling she’s ever felt in her life. When asked what she would say to the three people charged in his killing, she paused.
“I am a different kind of person, so I would hope they would never have to deal with something like this,” she said. “I have never felt anything so horrible in my life, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Funeral services for Joseph Hobbs will start with a public viewing at 12 p.m., Thursday, March 18, followed by the funeral service at 1 p.m. at Calvary Chapel Rio Grande Valley in Belen.